“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Five week old Rottweiler puppies

The following blog contains graphic pictures of puppies that are so cute, your knees will become weak and you may cry.
I have been really enjoying my new camera, a Nikon D5000.  With the help of a friend, I took head shots of all 8 pups on their 5 week birthday. 
Blue girl:
Green girl:
Lime girl:
Purple girl (aka Lady Gaga):
Pink/blue girl:
Blue/yellow boy:
Maroon boy:
Pink boy:
I intend to re-photograph the boys and the purple girl, because they were all sleepy and didn't have their ears up to properly frame their heads. The Maroon boy is much more handsome than his photo above. Look at Maroon boy below- he is the very definition of "cute":
All the pups moved outside to a spacious kennel at 4 weeks (which Darin built- good job and thanks to him!!) They go out into the yard to explore and play repeatedly every day. They are eating voraciously, and it is like a rugby scrum at mealtime. Everything was fine until last Thursday, when my husband called me at work to tell me Mr Pink had diarrhoea and wouldn't eat. He was also lethargic. He took him to the vet, and he was not dehydrated and didn't have a fever. He was sent home with antibiotics, but soon almost all the pups had diarrhoea. Immediately I worried about Parvovirus, because Rottweilers are particularly succeptible to this. However, there was no blood in the stool, so that was reassuring. Still, seeing the pups so lethargic, uncomfortable, and sad was very stressful.  Green girl was just sitting alone on the concrete, shivering, so I wrapped her up and brought her inside for some TLC. Ruby's breeder said that it sounds like coccidia (coccidiosis). This parasite is very common in puppies and kittens, but fortunately is treatable.  We had a fecal test done the following day, and got all pups on treatment by the end of that day. It sounds really funny and gross, but we are so happy to see the puppies having firm poos!
To be clear, although these pups are adorable and I want to keep them all, they are a lot of work and cost a lot of money! I have stopped keeping track of all the expenses- milk powder, ground beef, puppy chow, de-wormer, vet visits, the new kennel, the whelping box, etc.   
At the moment, the Maroon boy is my pick, but Mr Pink is incredibly cute.  I will have to get a better picture of him too.  I am quite fond of Lime girl, above, in her new ad for Fiskars axes and Fisher and Paykel clothers dryer. Lime girl is also on the log here:
Purple girl (Lady Gaga- see her Bad Romance music video, and see the arm movements of the white beings at the beginning - the puppy did this when bottle fed) is also very beautiful (below).
Aren't they all gorgeous? I have no idea how to choose which one to keep. The plan is for the pups to go to the registered breeder of this litter, Rita Grenyer of Sahne kennel, at 8 weeks of age. She will be responsible for the disposition of the puppies to good homes.  I'll be so sad to see them go, because I want to see how they develop into adults.  I hold them and they look at my face, they come when I call them. Everything they do is adorable. If I kept them all, I would really be a crazy dog lady and would be their slave. Having 3 Rottweilers is going to be challenge enough for me. 
Ruby, the dam, enjoys playing with them, but thinks all the toys should be hers and steals and hides them.  She hasn't nursed them since they started biting her nipples with tiny sharp teeth about 2 weeks ago. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Puppies almost 3 weeks old

Ruby's puppies are 3 weeks old tomorrow. They are incredibly cute! They have grown so much, we can't weigh them in my kitchen scale anymore because they don't fit in the pan and wriggle around too much. They all have their eyes open now, and are walking on all 4 legs. The female with the blue yarn was the first to open her eyes, and has the most coordination of them all. Their mobility has become a problem, because they are now able to climb out of their box using the rail on the inside of the box to lift themselves up to the door (see photo above). We found 5 of the pups out of the box this morning, sprawled across the floor of the room. I think they were hungry, and Ruby was lying on her bed just outside the door. She won't go in to nurse them unless the box is clean, and the pups had wet the papers in the night. We're not getting up in the night to feed them any longer, and this is why they are hungry. Darin has removed the inside rail and we will have to start closing the door at night.
The pups in these photos show them in "food coma" mode. They eat, sleep, and eliminate- that's about it. In the past few days, they've been vocalising more sounds and louder. 
You can see that we have both newspaper and towels on the floor of the box. The towels or fabric are so that the pups have some grip when they get their feet under them. The newspapers are too slippery to walk on. Ruby and the pups move them around, so we regularly spread them out again.
The next step will be to wean them.
In acknowledgement of the fact that their adorableness is temporary, and that we will probably not breed Ruby again, I bought a fancy new DSLR camera- the Nikon 5000D. The above photos were taken with my Cannon PowerShot, which is a sweet little thing, but I wanted something with more guts. It is much bigger and heavier, but has so many more options. The option that got me to choose this camera over a Cannon EOS 550D is the monitor/viewing screen folds out and rotates. I also really like that a lot of photo editing can be done in the camera, before you ever download to your computer. Below is a link to a video of Ruby nursing her puppies.
Ruby's puppies
I've arranged with my employers to work only 3 days a week- Tue, Wed, and Thur. It's been 2 weeks so far, and I have to say I LOVE IT! Unfortunately, I'm not getting as much done as I thought I would (gardening, sewing, cleaning...). Maybe that will change as the pups get a bit older. Feeding the pups with the bottle takes about an hour, and we're on our 4th box of milk replacement powder (about $39 NZD a box!). We were feeding 3 hourly, but changed to 4 hourly and no getting up from sleep to feed. Indeed, it's time again for them to be fed.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Rottweiler puppies born 27 September 2010

Ruby gave birth to 10 puppies, all within the span of 2 hours.  Unfortunately, the first one was blocking the way for the others, and due to the malpositioning of his body, Ruby was unable to deliver him.  She started labor on Sunday night, and we stayed up all night with her, waiting for the contractions that never came.  Monday morning and still no puppies, so Ruby's breeder Rita said to get her to the vet. I immediately thought the worst, and expected all of Ruby's pups to be dead, and/or requiring a C-section. Waiting in the parking lot, she started her first contraction since the previous night. When the vet arrived and got her into the exam room, he examined her and extracted the first pup, a boy, dead on arrival. This was very painful for Ruby- she really screamed about it. The vet thought he was going to need to give her an episiotomy, but managed to avoid it. The next puppy was delivered within 10 minutes, a girl, and we decided to take Ruby and her pup home to finish delivery there.  She delivered the next puppy, a girl, next to me in the back seat of our car, on the short 12 minute drive. There were no other problems with the delivery, except that for an unknown reason, pup #4 (another male) was delivered dead. Ruby did't seem to notice, she was working too hard.  Darin and I had to keep moving the pups into a basket for the delivery of the next pup, then returning them to her to get cleaned and warmed.
Ruby seemed to relax finally, and all 8 puppies (3 boys, 5 girls) seemed to be well.  I called the vet's office to let them know, and made an appointment to have the tails docked (must be done within 3-4 days from birth). Here's what they looked like with their tails.

I didn't anticipate the tail docking to affect me the way that it did. I don't regret that I had it done, but it was difficult. The puppies cried, Ruby vomited, and the vet didn't put in a suture (apparently this is acceptable practice, I suppose to get them done quickly). All 8 pups were to the vet and home again within 30 minutes, but they cried another 20 minutes after our return home. I really hate crying, be it puppy, kitten, infant, child, or whatever. Fortunately, these puppies are well cared for by Ruby so there is very little crying. 
Unfortunately, she is not producing enough milk for the puppies. This was only detected after I mentioned to Ruby's breeder that the pups appeared to be "sucking her dry". The pups seemed to be working very hard to get milk, and she looked uncomfortable and not swollen or engorged. Still, they appeared healthy and content, so with our lack of experience, the pups could have started to fade away before we realised the problem. The solution is to buy canine milk powder to mix up for supplemental feeding every 2 hours. 
This can be quite challenging, when the pups prefer their mother to a plastic nipple. Some are easier to feed than others. You may  notice in the photos that we have colored yarn on the puppies to identify them. We are weighing them daily, and they have been gaining since we started supplementing. There is a large difference between birth weights of the puppies, and this has continued. It is fun to hold the puppies and pet their soft fur. Ruby is cool with it now, but initially she was concerned about us taking her pups away.
Ruby has become noticibly calmer now (5 days since birth), as have we.  I will continue to worry about her lying on one of them until they are weaned. She is very careful, but she's also tired, and they are tiny and there are 8 of them to keep track of.  Though we had some anxiety and challenges, the outcome and experience certainly could have been worse.  We are really enjoying watching the gorgeous pups grow. 
I am going to work only 3 days a week until the pups go to their new homes, and it is spring, so there's much to appreciate. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Auckland election September 2010

Auckland is becoming a "Super City", meaning that we will no longer have separate councils for the different areas of the city. For example, I live in Waitakere, which has different rules about the sale of alcohol in markets than Auckland.  Once we become part of the super city, maybe I'll be able to purchase a bottle of wine at the grocery store. Who knows- there will certainly be both good and bad changes.  The new city needs a new mayor, so the election material came in the mail on Friday.  My husband pointed out these two winning candidates:
This is just too funny to be fake! This guy:
  1. Left school at age 14. Who wants a mayor with such a minimal education?
  2. He has smoked pot for 30 years, leaving school because of pot.  I can't imagine how he could avoid physical (and mental) damage from smoking unfiltered weed containing over 400 chemical entities.
Despite his admitted "criminal" behavior,  I'd vote for him before I'd vote for the following guy:

Abortion is legal in NZ, and I don't see any reason why it won't stay that way. I had a look at the statistics, and there aren't any discernable differences in the number of abortions in NZ compared to other developed countries. This guy is obviously a religious lunatic who can't discern where religion ends and civic law begins. Acording to the Libertarian Party newsletter (Oct '04), the Christians Against Abortion only put canidates up for local office elections, where they could have ZERO impact on abortion if elected.  
Apparently there are 23 candidates running for the position of Mayor.  Personally, I want to vote for the person who will make it a priority to build rail transport to the airport and the north shore, but I have no idea who that is.  I am not alone- "Rail to the airport has emerged as the most important transport priority in Auckland in the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey on the Super City." (Herald DigiPoll)
For the most part, I avoid getting invoved in politics, because I get annoyed with idiots. But I will vote.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The bitch is pregnant!

My female Rottweiler, Ruby, (aka Sahne Cherry Tart, BH) is the pregnant bitch.  She being of the canine persuasion, I can freely use the word "bitch" with accuracy. She is from Sahne Kennel in Auckland, NZ.  I first introduced Ruby in my blog here, when we got her as a pup. We co-own her with her breeder, Rita Grenyer. Rita is shown in the photo below, with Lincoln, Ruby's puppy daddy.
His registered name is Star's Copyright at Von Sahne, call name "Lincoln". He was the only pup from a litter sired by American Champion Goldshields Feature Presentation, CD, CGC, BH (these are obedience and temperament titles), and this will be his first litter in NZ. I think that the pups will be beautiful, and Lincoln will give Ruby a bit more substance. Both dogs are very well put together and have lovely temperaments. Ruby's half brother is Ch Nighthawk's Born For Highwood. Ruby's other half brother is Ch Thunder Ranch's Quash of Nighthawk, who is showing great dogsport ability, besides being gorgeous.
These 3 dogs share the sire, Can Ch Crusade Encore Von Sahne. Rita owned this dog and he was exported to the USA. Here in NZ, his frozen semen sired a litter from a bitch with some Schutzhund (aka dogsport) titled dogs in the pedigree (Ruby's dam, NZ Ch Tart n Tights of Marqee).
Ruby's puppies are due at the end of September, and we don't know how many to expect. We're hoping for 6- that would be enough. Here's a picture of Ruby in the whelping box my husband and I built and lined with linoleum for easier cleaning. 
This will be a new experience for all of us. We've owned 4 Rottweilers since about 1993, but never bred a litter because of the huge responsibility. I would have liked to have a puppy from Bacchus, the dog I titled to Schutzhund 3, but I never found anyone with a bitch that wanted to use him. Ruby is a very easy keeper, healthy, and a joy to have as part of the family, so I feel confident that she'll be a benefit to the breed.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

20 years

Darin and I have been married 20 years! That's right, 20 years, wow. I proposed to him when we were living together in Fargo. Our second year of marriage, I was accepted to graduate school in Indiana, and he had to stay in North Dakota to finish his degree at NDSU. It was really hard living apart, but it got harder- despite his  being my best friend.  We worked it out, though. Marriage really is a process of working things out. No one stays the same forever, and that's a good thing.  One thing that has stayed the same, and it is a very good thing, is that we agree that children are not what we want. This is a very important thing for a couple to agree on- no one should have parenthood forced upon them. Go ahead and call us DINKS (Double Income No Kids) or Selfish Heathens- we wear these like a badge of honor.
This isn't a post about our choices, this is about my fabulous new ring! Check out this flashy ice! The photo doesn't do justice to the colors flashed around when I move my hand. I have been happily distracted by my ring at my job this week.  Like our first wedding bands of only gold, we found this at a pawn shop at a cost dramatically less than what a jewellrey shop would charge. Also, it is 18 karat gold, unlike most of the 9 karat crap sold in NZ.
As our anniversary was on a Monday, we celebrated with a dinner out. We went to Sails restaurant on Westhaven marina and ordered the grilled lobster for dinner. It was so delicious! I asked where the lobster was caught, and the waitress said the Chatham islands off the coast of NZ.  We were equally happy with the fresh Clevedon oysters and tuna carpaccio. We also enjoyed a bottle of Nevis Bluff Pinot Gris. 
When we returned from our trip to the US in July, we had a pre-planned trip on the Overlander train from Auckland to Wellington booked. We left Auckland the day after we returned from the US, early Saturday morning, and arrived in Wellington 12 hours later. It is a beautiful and leisurely trip with a stop at National Park (photo above taken there).  I hope to do it again.
Wellington has great public transport, so we caught a bus to our hotel, the Museum Hotel, which is in a super location, just across the street from the national museum, Te Papa.
We'd been there before, but this time we saw a cool tapa cloth exhibit and the recently acquired giant squid.  I love cephalopods! I also found a book on NZ spiders, and found the name of one I saw in our yard in Auckland, the two-spined spider.  We had the most perfect weather for cruising around the farmer's and foodie market in the morning and walking along Oriental Bay and up Mt Victoria. 
Wellington is such a nice city.
We flew back to Auckland on Jet Star, and the seats on the plane were really tightly packed. If you are tall, you definitely want to get an exit row seat on their planes. Also, I am not sure I would fly Jet Star for any travel more than a couple hours. But definitely I will take the train again.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Midwest visit, summer 2010

I don't understand why the Midwest is called the "Midwest". It would be more accurate to call North Dakota and Minnesota the "MidNorth" because are as far East as they are West. They are at about the center of the North America continent, so Midnorth sounds about right. My husband and I were back to ND and MN to visit for just 10 days in July. I've been back in New Zealand for two weeks, but the holiday feels like ages ago. We were totally spoiled by our families. Since I returned, I've been suffering from Attention Deficit. This affliction is due to the sudden withdrawal of attention. Due to the shortness of our trip, we had to make the most of our time. It was very "full on".  Our friend Rob, who we visited in Minneapolis, called our visit "Mag- and Darin-fest", which I think was an apt description of our visit.
My niece Stephanie and I made salsa with my mom at her home in Fargo. Mom and I bought some of the ingredients at the Fargo farmer's market, only to discover that those big beautiful jalapeno peppers were mild instead of hot. The jalapenos in my dad's garden, however, were hot. Steph and I made 3 fresh salsas, and my mom made 4 canned salsas. The reason we made so many was that there was a salsa competition at the Red River Valley Fair I thought my favorite, Salsa del Norte, would do well, and it did take a 2nd place prize: $25 in coupons for Old Dutch snacks.
My mom's carrot pepper salsa won the big Salsa Champion prize: $100 gift certificate to a fancy restaurant. For an entry of 36, we did quite well, I think.
My dad's raspberry patch was in full fruit in mid-July, and he had more than he knew what to do with. The chest freezer was already packed with frozen fruit. Steph, Darin, and I were only too happy to help with this, and so we had a competition to see who could eat the most raspberries at once. Honestly, they taste even better when eaten in handfuls.
One of the highlights of the trip was seeing our old friend who lives in Tacoma at his parents' home on Lake Stalker, MN. The weather was absolutely perfect. I swam in the lake, Darin fished off the dock, we played cards, and Darin and I saw the best shooting star we've ever seen- long tail, very bright, and sparkling finish.
Darin and I also spent a weekend in Minneapolis, visiting more friends, seeing the Walker Art Center, and shopping at Big Brain Comics.  My brother and his wife drove up from Rochester to have dinner with us on my birthday. 
I wandered around the Fargo Downtown Street Fair with my sister and her two daughters, and later with my other niece Stephanie. Afterward, we went to see the Trollwood Performing Arts School production of Anything Goes, which was pretty good, but Trollwood is very different today than when I went there as a teen.
Besides the raspberries and salsa,we had plenty of other delicious food.  Dad grilled some massive T-bone steaks. We ate at Famous Dave's BBQ, I got halibut and king crab at Red Lobster (which are hard to get in NZ), and Darin's mom made her delicious carmel rolls. I'm pretty sure that I put on a few pounds during the trip, but it was worth the enjoyment.
Too bad that we flew Delta Airlines, because their service is appalling. They were the cheapest, but I think we'll pay more next time to fly another carrier. Also, LAX still really sucks. If you ever have to travel internationally, you're  better off to go via San Francisco if possible.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Got rope? bumper sticker- ugh.

I was back in America for 10 days recently to visit friends and family (and go shopping). It was a great visit, overall, and I intend to post a bunch of fun photos I took while there. But first, I have to get this out there:

As I was driving through Fargo one afternoon, I saw this bumper sticker on the back of a truck:
It's a bit hard to read, but it says "got rope? Hang a sex offender".  Which is funny, considering that the term "sex offender" is used. This word is so much nicer than "rapist", "pedophile", or other less polite terms.  "Sex offender" sounds like it was an accident... "sorry lady, I didn't mean to sex offend you."  instead of a violent crime.  But violent crime is in fact what the sticker is advocating- hang someone with rope. Why not drag him behind the truck with the rope while you're at it? Here's some more irony for you: If you look carefully at the car dealer decal above the S10 logo, it says or said Friendly, and on the North Dakota license plate it says "discover the spirit".  Yes, the spirit of... hate? 
OK I'm from North Dakota and don't mean to criticise or offend anyone who lives there, just this person with this truck. What a jerk. Even if you or someone you love had a "sex offense" done to her/him, how does promoting violence change that? Does this person feel more powerful by hoping that someone may actually follow the advice on a truck's bumper sticker?  On the other hand, I guess I appreciate that this person is honest about his/her feelings- just so there's no confusion, in case you were wondering about their opinion of sex offenders.
It's easy enough to find pedophiles that are living in your neighborhood in the USA. In California, the Attorney General's office has a searchable database online, here. You can find out exactly where they lived.  The website says over 63,000 sex offenders are required to register in CA as sex offenders.  Many other states have searchable databases. Wikipedia cites a research review of recidivism rates, and sex offenders (9%) were less likely to re-offend than other felons were to commit any new felonies (and get caught, of course). Maybe the reason is that the sex offenders have been removed from society by hanging from a rope?
I have recently read the book The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and the author portrays rape and violence in the story. It definitely made me squirm, watching the film, but in the context of the book, it's easier to handle. I have seen so many people reading this book lately, and it was given to me as a gift (thanks Dad!). The author's perspective is probably quite comfortable with the above bumper sticker.
I'm reading a book now called Caveman Logic, which is pretty good.  The author really puts superstitious thinking into perspective. I think the author struggles quite a bit to provide evidence to support his conclusions. Which is ironic, since he obviously supports the scientific method.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

NZ government is pissing me off!

Emissions Trading Scheme- more like a scam! Tell me, who benefits from this? Not the environment- none of the money is being devoted to conservation or reducing emissions. The deal is, we in NZ pay more for our energy and products that use energy to produce (everything), having no impact on global pollution, and the rest of the world goes on with business as usual. The common people of NZ get screwed out of their hard-earned money by every goods and services company raising prices to cover the additional costs. I propose that we throw out Prime Minister John Key, just like Aussies threw out their PM, overnight. As an American, it's a bit of a wake up call to see that changes CAN be made to the gov't after it's voted in. According to the ACT party, 85% of the trading NZ does is with non-ETS countries (lookin' at you, Asia).  Half of NZ's emissions come from agriculture, according to the Ministry for the Environment report. But if you're going to "tax" animal farts, why not also include the human contribution to emissions? I want carbon credits for not having any children, and I know lots of people who feel the same way. This topic reminds me of the great, late Bill Hicks quote:
People pay lip service to saving the planet, but they don't – they fail to make the big leap that if you want to save the planet, kill your fucking self. The planet will be saved without you. And what a delightful place it'll be. Welcome. It's a new thing I'm working on, called "The Comedy of Hate". Join in.

I am available for children's parties, by the way.

Seriously, this ETS is just not going to matter. I'm in favor of saving the planet too, but how about reducing the rate of population growth? That's the elephant in the room, no one will talk about it (except Mother Jones).
According to the Global Footprint Network, a California think tank, we first overdrew our accounts in 1983, when our population of nearly 4.7 billion began to consume natural resources faster than they could be replenished—a phenomenon called "ecological overshoot." Last year, 6.8 billion of us consumed the renewable resources of 1.4 Earths. The United Nations projects that world population will stabilize at 9.1 billion in 2050. This prediction assumes a decline from the current average global fertility rate of 2.56 children per woman to 2.02 children per woman in the years between 2045 and 2050.

Fresh on the heels of the ETS injustice is this article in the NZ Herald about proposed pay rise and travel perks allowed MPs (Minister of Palaiment, I think). I am shocked to learn that the MP's partners and kids get 90% of their travel cost covered.  I call BULLSHIT. According to the article, "The travel perk costs taxpayers about $600,000 a year." This review committee recommended doing away with this perk and replacing it with a 10% pay rise, which is going to save money by some bizarre logic by costing taxpayers 1.7 million dollars. WTF!  I love this quote from the secretary of Unite Union: "It would make every New Zealander vomit in their Weet-Bix tomorrow morning. They put themselves out to be a cast of workers who are treated differently from others. Most New Zealanders are struggling. They don't enjoy any perks - they don't get any allowances or anything like that. It's not fair."
I don't suffer from the delusion that life is fair. But when I'm in Wellington at the end of the month, maybe I should pay a visit to the Beehive and visit my MP. Would they listen to me? Probably not. I am not yet a citizen anyway, but I do vote.